Friday, February 7, 2014

Be My Valentine...

This truly has to be one of the best desserts of all time…Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake.  If someone made this for me - instant love.  Maybe it's like Cupid's arrow, when you take a bite of this cake whomever you see first you'll fall in love with ;)  Silly - yes, but it's that good.  I first came across this dessert at an amazing restaurant in Vail called Sweet Basil.  It's a fabulous place and if you are skiing in Vail this season, you have to go.  I've been many times and it's top notch.  Well, it turns out that this dessert is actually the only recipe in the entire restaurant that they will give away!  Awesome, right?  Not if you can't find it and I searched and searched and then decided to try my own gluten free version.  It's simply divine.  The dates in the cake, give it the perfect amount of sweetness and the toffee sauce sinks into the cake and you have this gooey, creamy bite of pure bliss.  I'll definitely be making this for my Valentine and our two little Valentines this year.  Nothing says I love you like something made from the heart.  Happy Valentine's Day everyone.  It's one of my favorite days of the year! Enjoy!

La Recette:

*You'll need eight 3 inch ramekins or you can use a muffin tray.
1 1/2 cups dates, pitted and finely chopped.  Dates are very easy to pit.  If they are cheaper with the pit, buy them and do it yourself.  Very easy.
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature.  Try to buy European style butter.  It really makes a difference.
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 extra large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups gluten free baking mix - I like Bisquick
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder

The Sauce -
4 oz. unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream for serving 

-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour your ramekins or muffin tray.  You can also use a 9 inch cake pan if you prefer.
-In a medium sauce pan, bring the dates and two cups of water to boil.  Let them simmer for 2-3 minutes.  Turn the heat off and add in the teaspoon of baking soda.  It will bubble and fizz.  Give it a quick stir and set aside.
-In a small bowl, combine the gluten free baking mix and salt.  Set aside.
-Cream the butter and sugar in a mix master with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer until light and fluffy.
-Slowly add in the eggs and then the vanilla and orange zest.  Stop in-between to scrape down the sides, making sure every thing is getting incorporated.
-Slowly add in the flour and mix until smooth.  About 2 minutes.
-Next, add in the warm date mixture.  Do this slowly.  
-Add in the baking soda and the dough will bubble a bit like the date mixture.  Mix until everything is well combined.  The batter will be more loose than traditional cake batter.
-Place the buttered and floured ramekins, muffin tray, or cake pan on a baking sheet and fill 3/4 full.  The ramekins and muffin trays will bake for 20-25 minutes.  Allow for a little more time if you are using a cake pan.  Use a toothpick to test if they are done.  It should come out clean.
-In the meantime, combine the butter, brown sugar, cream and vanilla in a medium sauce pan.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat.  Let the mixture simmer for 3-5 minutes until thickened.  
-When the cakes are done, remove them from the oven and let them cool for about 10 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge and remove them from the baking vessel.  Turn the cake upside down and poke the entire top with a toothpick or skewer.  I prefer the skewer because it make slightly bigger holes.  

- Take 1 tablespoon of the toffee sauce and pour over the top of the cake  letting it sink into the holes.
-Wait 5 minutes and repeat again.  If you are using a 9 inch cake pan, pour half of the sauce over the cake, wait 5 minutes and then pour the remainder of the sauce over the cake.  
-This should be done while the cakes are still warm.   
-Top the cakes with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream (Check my blog under kitchen tips for how to make the best whipped cream - it needs to be heavy whipping cream.)

*If you are making this for two, these cakes freeze really well in an airtight container.  Take them out of the freezer an hour before you want to serve them.  Re-heat in the oven for 10 minutes at 250 degrees F.  Make sure the sauce is warm and follow the same steps.
*Earth Balance vegan sticks can be used for the cake and sauce but the cream is needed.  I haven't tried it with soy milk but it could be an option.  I will test it soon.
*If you have an egg allergy, add 1/2 cup of unsweetened apple sauce instead of using eggs.  
*This recipe is adapted from the fabulous Barefoot Contessa.

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